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A new study released Thursday estimates that Texas’ abortion ban resulted in almost 10,000 more babies being born in the state.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimated that between April and December 2022, 9,799 more babies were born likely because of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortion with few exceptions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — usually five to six weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle.
“Every baby saved from elective abortion should be celebrated,” Texas Right to Life president John Seago told The Texas Tribune. “This new study highlights the significant success of our movement in the last two years, while we look forward to helping the mothers and families of our state care for their children.”
Through statistical modeling and analyzing historical birth data from all 50 states, researchers were able to estimate that 287,289 Texan children would have been born in the nine-month period if the Heartbeat Act was not in place. In that time period, 297,088 babies were actually born, presumably because of the abortion ban.
The Heartbeat Act went into effect in September 2021, before the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, which allowed private individuals to sue abortion providers, effectively banning the practice in the state.
The Johns Hopkins study is the first to examine how the Texas law impacted the number of births in the state, and it was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
“Although our study doesn’t detail why these extra births occurred, our findings strongly suggest that a considerable number of pregnant individuals in Texas were unable to overcome barriers to abortion access,” said Dr. Alison Gemmill, one of the study’s lead authors.
An earlier study released before Dobbs suggested that Texan women were traveling to neighboring states like Oklahoma and Louisiana to get abortions. However, since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, every neighboring state except New Mexico restricted the practice. The authors of the study believe that this may lead to even greater increases in births.
“If, previously, people were able to leave the state to go to a neighboring state to seek an abortion, that’s no longer an option,” Gemmill said. “So it’s possible that we could be seeing even greater increases [in children born] post-Dobbs.”
Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature voted to allocate an additional $20 million per year to the Alternatives to Abortion program, which funds crisis pregnancy centers and nonprofits that offer material support, like car seats and formula, to new parents.